Monday, 18 October 2010

Neither management courses nor staying in Wales should be legally this much fun…..

I'm afraid to say since it has taken almost 2 hours to post a few replies and add this short bit of text Blogging from Cuba is proving too difficult so I will continue posting on my return to a much colder but more internet friendly UK. Hope to se you in early November....

I have a few rules in life, one of which is I don’t blog about work, because blogging about work is never a good idea, it gets people into trouble, it can even get people sacked – I guess if you are a spy it might even get people killed.

Face it: James Bond does not blog, tweet or twitter about his job or if he does I’ve never heard about it

With out giving too much away, I am prepared to reveal that I am not a spy…………………..

…………………although I'm sure I could be if I wanted  …..

Plus points of being a spy:
  • Loads of cool gadgets
  • Black can be very flattering to the larger frame
  • The expensive cars (but eek! Think of the insurance bill)
  • The glamourous women (Psst…. Best not mention these to Mrs B)
  • Lots of different passports
Picture me with a big beaming smile

Negative points of being a spy:
  • All that killing and maiming
  • The unsociable hours
  • Keeping secrets (I can’t even hide new clothes in the house for more than about 5 hours, let alone the top secret plans to prevent world domination)
  • The constant drinking
  • Mrs B would never stand for it (I think she just found out about the glamourous women)
  • Getting pulled off a mission part way through, because your wife had got your supper ready, would, I suspect, be considered deeply uncool and would see me in the spy equivalent of Coventry PDQ.
  • Then there is my tendency to lose things, like wallets, keys etc… Can you imagine having to explain to the big spy boss why you had lost your 3rd gun in the last 4 days and how you had got hold of the top secret documents on the last mission but had put them somewhere safe but can’t quite remember where -
“Don’t worry I’m sure they will turn up shortly” – Hardly cuts the mustard

OK so perhaps I wont make it as a spy……

Sorry I digressed, where was I…….?

Oh yes, that rule about not blogging about work….Fortunately I have rule 2.3 rules which states all Rules are there to be prodded, stretched and if you get the chance and you are sure no one is looking, broken….ooops….it was like that when I found it, honest.

So work, which for the sake of my career shall remain nameless, sent me on a 3 day Management course with the aim of testing my metal and for me to discover myself.

I decided to start practicing on the way up and set myself the challenge of getting 400 miles out of ElleGee’s tank. This was quite an ambitious plan since the most I normally get out of him is about 320 miles.
  • I blame my father for this type of action, he once drove from London to Birmingham at a steady 55mph as he had read this was the optimum speed for a car to get the best mpg return). After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only 5 days and the 3 millionth rendition of “A pig has a ring in it’s nose, ring in it’s nose, ring in it’s nose” interspersed with regular and very winey renditions of “Are we nearly there yet?” from my sister and I (You have to remember that these were the days before cars had in built cinemas and as a kid you had to create your own entertainment, which consisted chiefly of torturing your parents) my father finally snapped and abandoned his 55mph plan cranking Bubbles, our white Maxi, to its limit (about 58mph as I recall). He promised never to do it again after he discovered he had saved about 12p….
I left the motorway with the computer claiming there were 8 miles left in the tank and Satnav saying the venue was 9 miles away. No problem, I just needed to find a garage ……only this is the Lake District, where apparently cars run on fresh air. The satnav finally found a petrol station about 12 miles away and so I hit the magic speed of 55 miles an hour and at 12 miles I discovered the garage was actually there, it was open…..only it was on the other side of a dual carriageway with a huge barrier in-between…..I travelled another 4 miles further until a junction allowed me to make my way back and I breezed in on that famous Lake District air (and by my calculation about 12 miles in debt) and, like my father before me, vowed never to experiment again….well until the next time that is….

When I mentioned I had been on a Management course in last week’s blog I received a few comments about it all sounding “a bit corporate”….. I’m not sure if it was meant to be corporate but all I can say is The Beast and I had a blast. Yes the Beast joined me and after I started taking a few pictures it became almost expected from the course leader that the Beast would be on duty. I had decided not to bring him out on the second day and was practically sent back to my room in disgrace to retrieve him….. I can’t say too much as the course relies on a certain element of surprise and just in case anyone from my unnamed firm accidently reads this all I will say is: water, climbing, buying, selling, jumping, crawling, laughing and film clips and I was getting paid for this. Fantastic…..just a shame I couldn’t get The Beast on the payroll…

Before I came away I had had some feedback from someone that I had just started working with that I used too much humour…. Afraid so. Life is far too short and it would be dull not to.

On the course I started off at my normal humour level for the first day but then reined it in during one of the tasks on day two as I was in concentration mode (man attempting to work, so no chance of multi-tasking). At the end of the task I received feedback from the other member of the team that I was not using enough humour….

I made the mistake of mentioning to my boss the two opposing feedback positions which he rather helpfully crafted into one of my goals for next year: “To use the appropriate level of humour at all times” WTF ….Hmmm, I guess it could work as long as I get to be the judge of what is appropriate….

Ski group reunion Wales – Minstrels Manor
The course proved very useful for the weekend as we had a ski group reunion in Wales, part of which included Gorge walking. This basically seems to comprise throwing yourself up Waterfalls until you are soaking wet and scraped to within an inch of your lives. Not for everyone but great fun if you are into that sort of thing. Unfortunately no pictures as the trip was not conducive with The Beast’s more sensitive side which objects strongly to being immersed in freezing cold water….Believe it or not it was great fun. Doing this sort of thing allows you to find out a lot about people. For example:
  • Our friend Kirsty is way too trusting of me. At the first fairly deep water we came across she asked me to give her a piggy back so that she would not get wet. I was happy to oblige but accidently immersed myself in the water part way across. Oh Kirsty when will you ever learn….?
  • Craig, the big tough, out door guy does not like mud. Whenever he got a bit of mud on him he was compelled to plunge himself into the water and scrub himself clean. At one point we came across a rich vein of Black Welsh mud and were encouraged by our guides to use it like face paint and get all creative with it. Various moustaches, cats’ whiskers and assorted patterns appeared. I’m afraid Joe and I went for the less creative but much more fun “Plastering it all over your faces” option. The look of horror on Craig’s face was worth the price of admission alone and nothing on this earth was going to get him to let the mud anywhere near him. I think just the thought of it sent him scurrying off for a courtesy wash…. Yet Craig was happy to be out there knee deep in the outdoors while Lisa, Phil, Christian, Big Sis, Richard and Shonagh all decided Hay on Wye /the pub was a much better option.

Words can’t do justice to the weekend; I can highly recommend hiring a manor house with great friends and getting caterers in to cook dinner and most importantly clear up afterwards so I’ll let the pictures tell the story in this weeks Photo finish.

A Record of the week

James Bond by Scouting For Girls

Waterfalls by Paul McCartney

Country House by Blur

A House in the Country by the Kinks

Photo finish
Words can’t do justice to the weekend; I can highly recommend hiring a manor house with great friends and getting caterers in to cook dinner and most importantly clear up afterwards so I’ll let the pictures tell the story

Minstrel Manor South Wales

It was the perfect setting for
our Ski reunion... 

Looks like Criag really does not want that
offer of being covered in Mud

Do you think we will lose our deposit after
the party got a bit out of hand .....

I will try and add some more photos the next time I get internet access....

My carefully BlackLOG schedule has gone out of the window, thanks to a last minute rush to complete everything before we came out on our cycling trip around Cuba and my mistaken belief that Wi-Fi is available everywhere in the world and that Mrs B was ready to publish her Hong Kong and mainland China blogs. She apparently has a few minor adjustments to make so from my experience I would advice you get comfortable this might take awhile…. I'm also finding Cuba a bit of a struggle to find internet access. Yes I have got it now but I'm not sure when I will next get the chance, so it might be a couple of weeks before I can publish the next blog.

The Beast singlehandedly captures the
 weekend’s entourage….

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mrs B finds a blogging voice and our friend Al finds a new husband.

This week a big hand for Mrs B who is a much anticipated guessed blogger….

Observations of a novice business traveller


First time Mr B and I have spent more than 3 days/nights apart in over 28 years
(bizarrely, after I finished celebrating, I found I actually missed him….)

First overseas business trip

First (official) business class flight

So, I find myself travelling overseas on business for the first time in my career. Only waited 26 years………..but despite my outward appearance of self assurance and mature confidence, inside I was wracked by feelings of nervousness and apprehension.

And the worst thing was………even after being with someone for 25 years, I still didn’t want to experience all this without my soulmate. After all, we’ve been together longer than we’ve been apart and done all of our travelling together.

Anyway, back to the neuroses:

• What do I pack for a trip that includes formal business meetings, casual business meetings, dinners (both business and pleasure), leisure and tourism? The answer appears to be “almost everything in my wardrobe”

• Just how do men travel with hand-luggage only? (obviously that excludes my husband because he brings The Beast, who has more changes of clothes (or in this case lenses) than an average Kylie live show).

• What should I wear to travel business class?

• Is there a separate check-in desk at Terminal 5 or have I just shown myself up as a complete novice by checking in with all the plebs?

• Where the heck is the lounge I can use?

• Is this food and drink really free?

• Can I take the magazines and newspapers with me?

• Why isn’t Mr B here to enjoy this with me?

Who’d have thought that a 44 year old woman would have so many issues?

Anyway, I eventually found the BA business class lounge and enjoyed the following freebies:

Chicken korma and rice
Tea and several packets of biscuits
Large gin and bitter lemon (in the absence of full fat tonic)
Packet of crisps
The FT, Hello and World of Interiors

Monday (Day 1) The flight:

At the boarding gate, like a plonker, I queued up with everyone because they said they were boarding seats 30 – 70 (I was in 61A). It took me a while to realise that surely there was some kind of benefit from being a business class traveller? Oh, yes, you get to jump to the front of the queue and experience the magic world that is “priority boarding”.

So, I’m boarding and get directed “upstairs”………shurely shum mistake? Isn’t it 1st class in the bubble? Apparently not. On BA flight 27 to Hong Kong, business class passengers are in the bubble. And very nice it is too. My neighbour is Damien, a very nice but talkative Irishman who insisted on leaving the privacy screen down……grhhh!

Damien is a well travelled business man off to Macau for a pallet supplier convention (and I thought my job was boring………!) Actually, he was alright. Between us we pretended we didn’t have a clue how to operate the flat bed or the in-flight entertainment system (well, he pretended, I genuinely didn’t have a clue!).

I kept myself company by watching Sex and the City 2 and part of The History Boys.
(Mr B was particularly unimpressed as he said he would expect to get through at least 5 films on a 12 hour flight).

That’s probably enough chatter for now, it’s all still a bit new to me stepping out of my editor role,….next time I’ll take you through the Hong Kong part of the trip….

A Record of the week

Airport – by the Motors
Fly away – by Aerosmiths
Get me to the Church on Time – by Nat King Cole (You will have to delve down into the pictures for this reference….)

Photo finish
This week’s photo finish is dedicated to Al & Richard who got married on Sunday - well I think they did.....

It could have gone better - we had made a mad dash back from Wales (Ooops , I haven’t actually got around to telling you about that trip, since Mrs B hijacked this week’s BlackLOG. You will have to wait until next week for that) and arrived dead on 5:30pm.

I was quite impressed as I had been fighting a rearguard action against both the traffic and Mrs B (who would surface from a deep sleep, announce I was travelling too fast before slipping back into unconsciousness....Nothing to do with me breaking really hard and knocking her out on the windscreen, honest). So you can imagine how shocked I was to see the Bride and Groom exiting from the church.

Were they having a dry run to make sure they got it right for us….?

Errr, no …

We had got the time wrong (again.....At least we did better by 23 hours and 30 minutes from the last time disaster The almost Perfect gig experience, so I think you will agree that is a big improvement) and arrived at the time that the Wedding Breakfast had been scheduled. Worse still because the drive was over 4 hours long we had decided not to get changed until we got to the venue, so as not to ruin our wedding outfits….. so despite not making the service, we ended up in the official photographs and even got mentioned in the groom’s speech as the couple who were changing just as everyone walked out of the service….Doh!

Richard & Al we are so sorry that we missed the main event and I hope some of the informal photo’s I took at the reception will go some way towards our redemption....

Mrs B and a freshly married Al

While it is acceptable for the bride to be fashionably late
the same tradition does not apparently apply to the guests.

How unfair it that ….

If only we had known that we had got the wrong time we could have sent
Al some pre wedding chocolates, around half an hours worth and we
would probably have got away with it …….

Princess Al of Great Chesterfield holding court.

Richard if I can give you two bits of advice to keep
Al Happy – lots of Chocolate and Chick flicks will
do The trick......
A big thank you to Richard, the Groom , for taking the
opportunity to mention us in the Speech – just in case
anyone had failed to notice us arriving late and trying to
get changed just as everyone came out of the church....

Lisa spots The Beast . So not the natural pose I was
Looking for…. Still if she had not been looking it would
 have been just a shot of the back of peoples heads.

Now this was a first for me, sitting next to someone at a
wedding and finding out that he was the bride’s ex-husband.

It got me thinking would I have Mrs B at my next wedding…..

The answer is of course an emphatic yes, because if I
ever get married again it will be to Mrs B …….

I’m afraid the Blogs are stacking up like planes over Heathrow, waiting for the Queen to pop out to the shops so they can get a sneaky landing in…. To prevent each publication becoming a War & Peace I’m now having to create a blogging publishing schedule. (I can see we are going to have to stop doing so much….)

Next week will cover our trip to Wales and my Leadership course in the Lake District.  Both of which happened last week. While Mrs. B’s continuing adventures in Hong Kong and China, which happened two weeks ago, will be the following week (as long as you guys give her some deserved encouragement)  and will act as coverage while we cycle through Cuba…..

The Cuba Blog is currently booked in for the New Year
(Please note this is all subject to change, as this is BlackLOG and not a democracy....)

Confused….You will be……

See some of you here next week and if you find that you are struggling to keep up don't forget to bring a pen and paper to take notes.....

Monday, 4 October 2010

Walk on by....

Mrs B returned and as I waited with my sign at the Airport

Mrs B

She waltzed straight passed me, The sign practically torn from my grasp by her trailing wind, leaving me having to sprint to catch up with her…..

Less than two weeks and she no longer recognises me….

Bad news on the Hong Kong update front, a very jet lagged Mrs B having arrived back Thursday night (which might account for the deliberate snubbing of her devoted husband – Oh yes I shall be living off this one for weeks, possibly decades) had to go into work on Friday and so has been a little jaded this weekend and so her Blog will be a little delayed. There has also been a bit of a problem with the Pictures.

This accounts for the short and hastily cobbled together BlackLOG this week I thought I was having a week off.

A record of the week
  • Diana Krall - Walk On By
  • Lily Allen - Alfie
  • Supergrass - MOVING
Photo finish
This weeks photo finish is dedicated mainly to our friends Joe & Kirsty and the new addition to their family Alfie and Craig and Mala move yet again....

It's mine and you can't 
have it.... 

 I'm bored now you can go... 

You looking at me?

Hang about I didn't say you
could go....

 Me, no it wasn't me that ate through your
Craig has moved twice in the last six months
 while Mala has moved three times...

Ehen will you learn that no matter where
you hide we will track you down....

good luck in your new and I hope
long lasting home....

Sorry it is so short this week, although most of you have probably appreciated the break....